OAKLAND, Calif.—The three final co-defendants who pleaded guilty to a 2013 attempted murder of a local police officer have been given sentences ranging from 18 years to 23 years in prison. A fourth co-defendant, Damien McDaniel, was sentenced to 33 years in September 2017.
On Wednesday afternoon, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ordered the lead defendant, Purvis Ellis, to 20 years in prison. Ars chronicled the Ellis case more than two years ago in a lengthy feature and described how Ellis was located via the use of cell-site simulators. These devices, which spoof ordinary cell towers, are often used by police to locate criminal suspects. However, in recent years, judges nationwide have increasingly scrutinized use of the surveillance tool.
Ellis apologized to the court and to the judge.
“I just hope not to be defined by this,” he said during the sentencing hearing.
His attorney, Martha Boersch, underscored to the judge that Ellis was trying to turn his life around.
“Mr. Ellis is not at all the man the government portrays him to be,” she said. “The fact of the matter is that Mr. Ellis has spent most of his life in custody. There just did not leave a lot of time for him to be associated with gang activity. Mr. Ellis is a very, very smart man. He has made real efforts since he’s been in custody to think about where he has been in life. I think that given the length of his sentence, it’s more than adequate and he intends to make the best use of that time and complete his education.”
As we reported in 2015, McDaniel was the one who managed to wrest Officer Eric Karsseboom’s gun away from him and shoot the cop in the wrist. Karsseboom, who was not in uniform at the time, didn’t tell McDaniel and the other suspects that he was a police officer until after he’d been shot.
Ellis was believed to be nearby at the time of the shooting, but he did not participate in the scuffle that resulted in the incident.
Ultimately, Ellis was found in the adjacent Seminary Ave. apartment building where the episode took place. In August 2017, Judge Hamilton ruled that the use of the devices, also known as stingrays, normally require a warrant, but that one was not needed in this instance due to exigent circumstances. (Neither the Oakland Police Department nor the FBI sought or received a warrant.)
Shortly after the August ruling, the guilty pleas followed. On Wednesday, Ellis’ co-defendants, Joseph Pennymon, and Deante Kincaid, were sentenced to 18 years and 23 years, respectively. Each of the three men appeared, lawyers at their side, in consecutive hearings.
Pennymon also apologized to the court for his actions.
“Ultimately I live with it, and I can guarantee you that this is the last time,” he said. “That’s it.”
In a statement, the acting United States Attorney applauded the sentence.
“Messrs. Ellis, Kincaid, McDaniel, and Pennymon and the Sem City criminal enterprise posed a significant threat to the public,” said Acting US Attorney Alex Tse. “Today’s just sentences assure the public that brazen acts of violence against our communities and the peace officers sworn to protect them will not be tolerated. This office will continue to prosecute violent and dangerous criminals to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank all of our federal and state law enforcement partners whose cooperation and efforts helped bring these violent criminals to justice.”
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